Students go to university for a variety of reasons. Some want to make more friends and
expand their circles. Some want to make their parents happy, and some want to experience
what living away from home feels like for the first time. These are all valid responses – but
they are not exactly true.
Ultimately there is one overarching reason why people go to university – to get a job
afterwards. Or to put it better – because they think they need to in order to get a job.
If you make your parents happy in the process, fine. If you make lots of friends and have
some great nights, even better. But ultimately the real reason you’re there is because you
wholeheartedly believe that university is the gatekeeper to the working world.
If you think about it, what really is a degree? I’d say it is a certificate of achievement. A
document which proves you were able to do something consistently for a prolonged amount
of time (usually three or four years), and that you were able to memorise the information you
were taught in lectures and then regurgitated it on a test or exam. So in other words, a
degree actually proves two things:
1. You can show up on time consistently
2. You can take in information and then present it in a more succinct manner
Sound familiar? If you’ve been applying for jobs for some time it should. You see, whilst they
may be phrased differently, these are the two core skills that every graduate job application
states in it’s requirements section.
So is there a way you can demonstrate that you possess these skills without going £50,000
into debt and trading four years of your life?
Earn Your Degree, Minus the Degree Well, that’s easier said than done. But it can be done. The point you’re trying to make here is
that you’re just as qualified, if not more qualified, than your competitors also applying for that
job who do have degrees in their back pockets.
There are a few ways you can do this. First of all – experience. Nothing will ever beat
experience and nothing will ever beat the kind of learning that experience gives you.
Lessons you learn in the field are invaluable, and hold far more weight than anything you
can learn inside of a classroom or auditorium. Having been on both sides of the stick here
(hiring and being hired without a degree), my suggestion would be to get yourself a part time
or gig job to get things going. If you’re studying in university and want to drop out and go
work full time, you can still have a part time job before you fully commit to the working world,
and apart from experience it will also give you an additional stream of income to keep
If you aren’t in university and want to go straight into the working world after high
school/sixth form (like I did), you should probably still go for a part time job at first,
considering you’ve never had one before. This will then give you the confidence to begin
shooting your shot with some full-time positions
Now that you’ve got yourself some experience (in any field, not necessarily the one you want
to work in), you have to make sure you speak the language of your target employer. Think
about what industry you want to go into? Sales or marketing, photography or graphic design,
finance? Start learning about the industry, it’s jargon and usual problems/challenges that are
faced by people working in it.
Start online, then begin to expand your network by going to conferences/events/meetups.
Although many people will have you believe that you can network your way into your first
job. Your main goal here will be to blow your graduate competition out of the water and
impress your employer with industry jargon, while other applicants will be spewing out
phrases from textbooks written 20 years ago.
Focus on building your personal brand primarily on LinkedIn. Make sure you’ve got a good
headshot picture, add your relevant work experience and most importantly, find who your
target employers are and engage with them. Comment on their posts, like their content,
share it, do anything that will get you noticed. Don’t ask for anything – help them out and then
they will help you out. For the most comprehensive guide on how to build your LinkedIn and
secure job interviews while still at university check out our free eBook here.
And remember, start seeing your position of not having a degree as an advantage rather
than a burden, and your employers will too.
Best of luck!